The agriculture drone business will yield a healthy economic crop over the next four years, according to a recent market report.
Zion Research released “Agriculture Drone Market: Global Industry Perspective, Comprehensive Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Segment, Trends and Forecast, 2015 – 2021,” a 100-page analysis last week.
Covering areas such as fixed and rotary drones as well as data management, imaging software and data analysis, the report pegs the precision agriculture drone market at $2.9 billion by 2021 – up 28 percent from a 2015 valuation of $673 million
“Drones help farmers take better care of their crops and have a higher yield from the farm,” the report states. “Increasing automation in the agriculture process — owing to the labor crisis such as a lack of skilled farmers and aging farmers — is also expected to have a positive impact on the agriculture drone market growth.”
The report notes that several well-known companies, as well as newer startups, have already soared to leadership status in the precision drone agriculture market including Boeing, DJI, Trimble Navigation, DroneDeploy, AgEagle, AeroVironment and Agribotix.
Because drones offer both aerial-view capability and can carry a variety of sensor arrays – LiDAR, infrared, HD cameras – farmers are lining up to invest in both drones and analytic software that can crunch the tons of data available from a single flight mission.
Access to precision data means farmers can efficiently identify threats such as insect infestation, drought damage, plant disease and other crop-health issues.
For example, AeroVironment recently partnered with Fresno State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology to survey and analyze water-stress levels in California almond trees using drones.
Investors are starting to take notice of the blossoming ag sector as well. In December, the venture-capital Commercial Drone Fund injected an undisclosed investment in precision-agriculture drone company Raptor Maps.
“The agriculture sector has been an early adopter of commercial drone technology, with several companies now offering products for monitoring crops,” fund developer John Kolaczynski told DRONELIFE. “What impressed us with Raptor Maps’ product is that it collects a vast amount of data, distills it down, and correlates actions that a grower can take on a season-to-season basis — something we haven’t seen in other drone products.